And then there were four.
By late Saturday afternoon, that's all that was left of the contenders for the Class 5A baseball title.
Anyone at Valley Park Friday night is already well aware how the Bearcats advanced — 4-0 and 7-0 shutouts of Walker with enough “pitching it and defending it” to make Brent Patterson an extremely content coach.
What most Black and Gold fans likely don't know, however, is anything about the other three teams vying for the beautiful blue piece of hardware Cullman hasn't had its hands on since 2008.
See the capsules below for a guide on how Briarwood Christian, Spanish Fort and Rehobeth all joined the ’Cats in the semifinals. Cullman will head to Briarwood, and Spanish Fort will host Rehobeth/Brookwood — each three-game series is set to start next Friday — with hopes of winding up as one of the last two squads standing in Montgomery.
Third-round opponent: No. 4 Southside
Third-round scores: 3-1, 5-2
Third-round highlights: Ethan Simmons slung a two-hit complete game in the opener, and Jake Bracewell followed suit by going the distance in the clincher. Wesley Hardin hit a home run and knocked in all three of Briarwood's runs in Game 1. Jack Morris, who added a two-run single in the nightcap, captivated the home crowd by reaching over the center field fence to rob a possible home run.
Ranking: No. 1
Third-round opponent: Marbury
Third-round scores: 2-1, 9-4
Third-round highlights: One of the state's hottest baseball teams had to lean on a pair of comebacks to stick around in the playoffs. Jesse McCord (10-1) punched out 10 batters in seven innings and came through with the game-winning RBI double in the sixth inning of the opener. Will Luft moved to 7-0 after striking out seven in a 4 1/3 inning start. He also slapped three singles to help Spanish Fort overcome an early 4-0 deficit. The Toros, who topped Cullman in the 2011 title game, have only dropped one of their last 28 games. The lone loss, a 6-4 final to 6A Thompson, came on April 12.